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A federal court upheld a New York state ban on gasoline additive MTBE, which would require all fuel sold in the state to be free of the controversial fuel additive.
New York Gov. George Pataki last year signed a law prohibiting use of methyl tertiary butyl ether effective Jan. 4, 2004. Violators would be subject to a civil fine of as much as $10,000.
MTBE has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use as an oxygenate in a gasoline program that requires certain areas, including New York state, to use gasoline that contains 2 percent oxygen.
The court ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Norman Mordue in Syracuse, N.Y. came in response to a legal challenge by the Oxygenated Fuels Association, a trade group representing producers of the additive.
Mordue, in his ruling, said that Congress didn't give EPA the "power to compel a state to accept a fuel additive which the state perceives as a threat to public health," according to a press release issued by Pataki and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
Critics of MTBE contend the additive, which ahs been classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen, can enter groundwater through leaking vehicle gas tanks, pipelines, auto accidents and overfilling of gas tanks.